From a new new published paper by Murat Iyigun in Economic Development and Cultural Change (July 2013):
The Ottoman Empire had a profound impact in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa at the apogee of its power, covering the era between 1453 and 1699. In this article, I exploit the empire’s unique culture and institutions to examine the roles of ethnicity and religion in conflict and war. Using comprehensive data on Ottoman wars and conflicts covering the reigns of 31 Ottoman sultans between 1400 and 1909, I document that the ethnic background of the Valide Sultan (queen mother) was an important and independent determinant of whether the empire engaged in military conquests in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. Depending on the empirical specification, the reign of a sultan with a European maternal genealogy was enough to offset more than 70% of the empire’s western orientation in imperial conquests. While these findings do not rule out a direct role of queen mothers and harem politics in Ottoman affairs, they are more in line with a longer-term channel of cultural transmission between the Valide Sultans and their sons.A draft of the paper is here.